Saturday, February 25, 2006

Farewell *Yawn*

It is the time of the year that several IIM bloggers and of course, other B-schoolers post about how they are getting sentimental and how much they would like to make the most of the days that they have left on campus, since by the 20th of March, even the convocations will be over. Classes are over everywhere as are exams and it’s just the placements and convocation that remain.

I find myself amongst the minority that is not in this category though. Far from being sentimental, I find myself almost relieved to be at the end of my stay here. It is not because I like to work, as that is the only thing I dread. I hate working hard and though I have never faced a problem thus far in the two years of work-life that I went through prior to this place, the prospect of working for the next thirty odd years does leave me a bit cold to be honest.

Yet, even this dread is not enough to make me feel sentimental about the place – not by a long way. For the most part, I will be glad to be out. They say that people make the place, but to be quite honest, I am not one for getting attached to people and the one thing I hate most is a crowd, which is exactly what you are faced with in a residential campus. A crowd of nitwits that it is well nigh impossible to get away from. People have a habit of being irritants and this place is no exception, whatever the general populace may make of the intellectual capital!

In the last 18 months or so, I have had a number of opportunities to see specimen from all the IIMs and also other B-schools during the summer internship as well as at the sundry B-school fests, yet they have, one and all, left me quite unimpressed. I find myself far more at home speaking to the people I know in the outside world. Yes, there are definitely a few people on this as well as other campuses that I would like to keep in touch with, but those are folks that I am pretty sure I will be in touch with even years down the line…and without the baggage that a campus bears with it.

Campus life is essential in my opinion, particularly at the Undergraduate level. It exposes you to the widest possible variety of idiots and teaches you how to handle nincompoops of all kinds. It also teaches you to fend for yourself even when surrounded by these duds and also how to work your way to success despite and occasionally because of these obstacles.

So, here are a few things I hate about campus life:

People expect you to know their names. Get this folks. Being in the same batch or class as me does not entitle you to my brain! It’s up to me to decide if I want to remember you. If I don’t then live with it! It’s not like I demand you to know me!!!

People expect you to talk to them nicely. Being on the same campus as me does not entitle you to my time. If I don’t want to speak to you, it does not mean I’m a snob. It just means that I don’t want to speak to you! If the converse is fine with me, this should be fine with you!!

People who think they’re entitled to know you. Somehow on a campus people think you should be open with your personal life. Get a life folks. Be happy I don’t burden you with my problems. Be happy that I’m not as weak as you!!!

The one thing that appeals to me the most about life after this place is that I will be able to lead a life where I can actually decide when and what I want to do. The very thought of not being forced to obey ‘norms’ and not being a ‘forced friend’ as I call it, is so attractive!!!

Yes, in case you are wondering, I do believe that 99% of this world comprises a bunch of morons (the remaining 1% read my blog ;-) ). That does not imply that I assume a person I meet for the first time to be one. No, I don’t and as I have mentioned a few times before in my musings, I like to be totally unbiased and unprejudiced about people I know nothing about. Yet, I still believe that 99% of the overall world is a bunch of morons from my perspective!

Nothing I have seen so far has given me any reason to make me rethink this. Here’s the rider. Everyone in the world could follow this philosophy and they could all be right! After all, someone may be a moron for me and me for him! It’s all a matter of individual perspectives and they, by definition vary from individual to individual.

Bottom line: I’m glad I won’t be forced to be in a closed place with a closed set of people. I’m glad I will be free to interact when and in the manner that I deem fit. I’m glad that even the forced interactions will end after office hours. I’m glad I will have a social life again of the type that I myself want. I’m glad I’m leaving…

Friday, February 17, 2006

And What Is Your Point?

Sitting today as I do, I find myself in a strange place within and without my surroundings. There is a palpable air of calm and yet I find myself unable to rest for the mind is in constant turmoil. The thoughts that race through my head are incessantly changing in colour and depth and they refuse to slow down to the point where I could endeavour to decipher, savour or even float within a single one.

Perhaps the closest that I got to coherent thought today was while writing my exam when I saw the question, “Justify: Interview situations inevitably create a conflict between truth and self-projection”. It is quite a strange question if you ask me. I do not question its veracity as it is quite evident. What makes it strange in my opinion is the fact that this is true not merely of interview situations but of each and every interaction we have whether with those around us or even with ourselves.

I have frequently dwelt on this fact and quite frankly upon seeing this question I was quite tempted to insert the line that even writing this answer could in a way become a conflict between what I truly believed and what the examiner wanted to know. When you speak to your parents it is a conflict between what you want to say or do and what you know they want you to say or do. Indeed it’s about who and what they want you to be.

It has been a strange sort of week for a variety of reasons and continues to stay weird. There are those write-ups that need to be sent to the committee that will publish the memoirs for the outgoing batch. While it seems like such a great idea on the surface, I see quite a few flaws in the entire thing that render the entire exercise quite meaningless in my opinion.

The write-ups are written for each person by another person whom the committee deems to be best placed to know the person in question. This to my mind is quite senseless. After all, shouldn’t the person be allowed to choose who knows him or her best? The committee obviously knows precious little about me, since I don’t even know who is in the committee and therefore of course, the person who has been allotted the task is my neighbour, who quite frankly, knows as little about me as the chaps who were last with me in kindergarten.

Then again, why should only person contribute? How much would this person be able to encapsulate and quite frankly, would it really matter? After all, for every single person on campus, I am somebody else. Ask 50 people what they think of me (or anyone else for that matter) and you are more than likely to have 50 different opinions. None of them is right and none is wrong, for quite simply, to quote Roger Waters, “I am you and what I see is me”.

Anyway, quite pointless to think about it, because frankly it does not make a difference to me and I could not really care less about the entire thing right now. There seem to be far better things to think about, if only I could identify just what my brain wants to do at this juncture. Quite frankly, it seems to have taken off on its own and that has left me a mere shell of a person who is seeing a complete blank all drawing more blanks when trying to come up with something or indeed trying to find my brain.

The entire exercise though has made me see things around me in a new light. All of a sudden there are now even more questions and proportionately fewer answers. When asked whether he was feeling bad about leaving this place, a person replied that he’d never felt worse and that he was leaving so many friends and stuff like that. It surprised me because the last time I felt such an emotion was when I was forced to change schools in my second grade! Evolution and change seem natural to me and more than being inevitable, to me they are essential!

It made me wonder how any person could ever mature if we were forever in the same company; if you were never made to move out and find your feet in a new environment. Mind you, I am of the type that is most averse to experiment and yet, I realise that unless I am faced with fresh views, situations, ideas and thoughts, I would never be able to grow in the truest sense of the word, as a person! Sentimentality is a sign of weakness and nothing more than that.

Yes, I do admit to having fond memories at times and there have been times when, even as I moved on, I knew that what I left behind was far better than most things I would come across later. Even today, I can identify those times and reaffirm that those were indeed great. However, that does not mean that I ever feel the urge to return to those times, nor do I regret where I am. They form beautiful memories that still make me smile and for that reason alone, I do not wish I could change what happened. That may perhaps just take the joy out of the entire situation.

Deep within each person knows the truth about change. Yet we’re almost always unwilling to let go and always attempting to hold on till the last possible moment. For some reason most people are loath to accept that parting is but a natural consequence of meeting and that nothing in the world is permanent except for a memory. Memories…why can’t we just aim at creating and retaining the best of them? Why hanker for living on in the same moment? Why not just live life as one collective memory where each scene is as beautiful as we choose to make it? I shall never know, because quite frankly, I too am human…

Sentimentality though is not restricted merely to people or places. What about thoughts? How many people are comfortable in stretching the boundaries of their imaginations? How many like to break free of the fetters of conventional thinking? Most of the time we can’t even bear to hear someone else speaking of something that goes against our thoughts. How could we tear ourselves free of our own thoughts all by ourselves? It is possible, but let’s face it, most of us will not do it, simply because we are too attached to what we already believe in. Questioning ourselves without any influence other than ourselves is not something that most of us can claim to be capable of.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Hanes - Tagless Comfort I Seek...

It seems that whatever I do, whichever direction I turn in and however deep into the sands I bury my head, there is always someone around that manages to spot me despite my not looking at them!!! Strange, but at least I now know what an ostrich feels like. Funny that I should say that because I’ve always found that the old ostrich trick works pretty well, whatever the old hats might say about that…

I mean, let’s think about it. You’re sitting in class and the prof asks you a question. What do you do? Well, the smart thing is to just not look at the prof and keep your head buried in the textbook/notebook/porno mag that you are carrying with you. Chances are that even if it is indeed you that the prof is referring to, a few moments later, the prof will sigh, give up on you and move on to the unsuspecting smarty-pants next to you who thought that the old hats were right…

Trust me, there is no better way to get asked a question by a prof than to look straight at him when he asks it!!! Anyway, I think I’ve veered way off course here, which of course is pretty natural considering the inhumanly torturous task that I am left confronted with. Twice I managed to do my Teflon-imitation and avoided the silly thing, but now I find that I have been firmly tagged… No amount of squirming seems to enable me to be rid of this, so here goes…

Well, this tag has really got me squirming. The requirement you see is that I write down the 8 top qualities that I wish my ideal woman to have. Now, quite frankly, this tag must have been made by a woman because most guys can’t think beyond three or four qualities and that is after we have dissected (literally) women into various parts and decided how we’d like each one to be… It’s like that old joke about the prayers of the sexes goes (Ping me if you have not yet heard that one ;-) )

So, I shall now put up a ‘façade’ once again. This time, I shall pretend to be this unique guy who actually does expect some intangibles from his women and then I am going to think even harder to come up with 8 of them. The end result of course will be aimed at making all the women that read this wonder how nice and sensitive and immensely dateable I am, while of course all I will actually be doing is sitting and praying that some dumb cluck actually falls for it all, goes to orkut, takes my phone number and calls me up saying how much she’d like to sleep with me ;-).

Anyway, enough of the beating around the bush part. Oh and in case you people are wondering, it was the exams that caused the delay in me posting this one, not the time that it took me to come up with these 8 lies…oops…qualities I want in my women…sorry again…woman:

1. She should be shorter than 4’1”. Quite simple really since I am 4’1. And no, it’s not about the ego thing here. Look, if the kids are short and the two of us are both short, at least they will never be able to blame just me!!! Whereas, if she’s 6’ tall and I’m just 4’1 and they’re all pygmies, well, I don’t think they’d let me off alive…well…let’s just say that it’d give them yet another reason to want to tar and feather me before they lynch me…Add to this my “marry at 50” theory (ping me if you don’t know that one) and you have the recipe for disaster. Tens of those monstrous kids chasing me down the streets! *shudder*

2. She should have a sense of humour that forces her to laugh at each and every one of my jokes, thus at least boosting my ego! This of course, is substitutable with a sub-30 IQ (not too difficult to find in women ;-) *Ouch!!!* Kidding!!!). That extremely low IQ of course would make her feel that I am sooooo smart with my 45 and she’d believe that it was a funny joke and she was just too dumb to get it (which most women are in any case *Owww!* OK, OK, I get the point. No more, no more…). Anyway, bottomline – whether it’s coz she’s smart or dumb, she should laugh at my jokes!!!

3. She should hate Sachin Tendulkar, Barcelona, Thierry Henry, Kimi Crykonnen, Glenn McGrath, Abhishek Bachchan, Leo The-Crap-rio, Fartstreet Boys, Cryin Adams etc with the same intensity as I do…no, no compromises on this one whatsoever!

4. She should be the type that considers it a sin to buy clothes that are not by good designer labels and that do not cost a bomb. I think that is the only way I will ever be able to own a designer outfit. While she’s at it, she can also teach me how to dress right and how to knot a freaking tie!!! (OK, that’s a lie. I can tie a double knot, it’s the single knot that she’ll have to teach me!!! Really…)

5. She should not think even for a moment about tidying the ‘mess’ that my house will be in. I don’t want her finding my ‘black book’ after all!!! That’s secret!!! More importantly though, I hate the thought of anyone mucking around with my diapers or teddies!

6. I am a moderate person with few - if any - mood swings. Normally, I am either a tolerant, easy-going person who is willing to compromise or I am a cold-blooded, premeditated murderer. I don’t believe in violence, breaking limbs or in mindless killing. So she should not think of me as a schizophrenic psychopath or something. And I am a vegetarian to boot!

7. She should not suffer from headaches at night. This one is imperative. There is no single line in the entire history of mankind that frustrates us as much as this one!!!

8. She should be able to constantly provide me with ammo for my Mars posts… (Yes, this one shows you the depths that I have had to plumb for this post…)

OK, that’s done then…and I hereby tag Neeta and request each and every one of the people that reads this to go and put in a message on her Shoutbox that she needs to do this tag!!! Grrr…

OK. Now that that's done, well, you see, I'm through with two exams and going by my performance, nothing can now stop me clearing this course now, so please do forgive the words that may offend you :D. And yes, like all men that walk this planet, the credo is, "Show me a woman. Then I'll decide what makes me like her!!!" Tags like these are meaningless for guys. What are we supposed to do? Be honest? That would be like... "Oh! I dunno...she should be good I guess...hmmm...whatever!" :-). But please, please please, do message that lazybones Neeta!!!

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Future is My Past - IV

Today, I extinguished a fire. Or perhaps all I have done is stoke the flame for one last time, to see it leap and rise to lick the skies one last time before an ember is all that slowly flickers and then fades into the night... On a different note, today will see me attend my last ever day of classroom education in a residential least, that is the way the plan seems, although judging by the way things have been before, I could perhaps be further from the truth than I have ever been before... Here I am then...unedited and uncut...

Far behind this curtain call,
In a place that I never saw before,
My waking dream merges into a part of folklore,
That these children will dance to,
While an eye bleeds and sees,
The tearing of me that desire wrought,
Perhaps the bending of a rule,
Was all that cheating life was about

Forever hidden away in the lap of death,
The secret of a life eternal,
But how could I consider leaving behind,
That without which no man could ever climb,
The stairs seem too high,
My foot withdrew before I started,
But when the maze of lies is the only truth,
Which reality do I deny?

If from above I could see me,
Would it still seem to be a lake of fire,
Or in the test each of us take,
Will it be the moment they lift my wake?
For sombre though the day may seem,
It’s not serenity I seek in me,
Nor was it on placid seas,
That maelstroms chose to forget the meek

Darkness that we strove to find,
With torches lit and flames unashamed,
But of what I left behind,
That last vestige is what today I blame,
Drag it under, kill it now,
Or stay where dead memories belong,
Or walk on by and light the way,
To where on me, eyes I shall lay

Today we run under sheltered sky,
The same which every attempt at flight denies,
But that which I seek far and wide,
In the darkest dungeon I’ve left behind,
Still the years will roll on by,
Raising hopes, provoking sighs,
For the curtains I part when I die,
Close as the newborn opens his eyes…

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Future Is My Past - III

Found this among some old papers while I was having my room cleared. A strange coincidence that I should find it today, but that of course begs the question whether there is any such thing as coincidence, which again leads to another train of questions and thoughts that is best left for another day...

Seeing what you never saw before,
That déjà vu you have once more,
Walking off but never turning back,
No helping hand or devil by your side

Buried under the weight of grief,
The smile that breaks brings to the mind,
The stabbing memory of a life,
That happiness strove to leave behind

That footprint on snowy ground,
Impressions never made upon the idle man,
Fingers shake; rings tremble and rise,
And disappear before reaching the sky

You thought you knew but were too wise,
No want required one more try,
Why chase what I never had?
You never lose if you never fight

Lying beside that which never rise,
The death you see was just in my eyes,
When birth’s a myth and life’s a lie,
What can you seek? What could you find?

The doors are closed into the mind,
Don’t care to ask for I know not why,
Just quietly pass and walk on by,
And leave the dead to lead their lives

The foe that rose to slay the lie,
Killed by the fear that walked by his side,
The friend is dead, the foe alive,
Or are they just one in the mind?

The breaths are dreams that froze the day,
And words unsaid hidden awake,
Are these all we’re meant to forsake?
From this sleep no more will you awake

Monday, February 06, 2006

Ruins Build the Dreams You See...

I wonder at times why the things that one seems to want the most never seem to happen, while the ones that one dreads the most, seem pre-destined. On the subject of the latter, I once surmised and still stand by my thought process, that we dread them so much, only because we know that there is a great likelihood of their actually coming to pass.

It’s only logical. Of all the things that you really dread, having an airliner crash onto your head while crossing the street in the morning, is hardly likely to top the list. It’s far more likely to be something much more personal and something that a part of you realises as being somehow likely to happen, however much you try to deny it consciously.

On the getting of things, I started off thinking that perhaps it is similar. Perhaps the things one hankers for the most are the things that you are least likely to be able to get. That actually didn’t make much sense though and it fails to stand any scrutiny from any angle. After all, I know people who seem to have both feel almost rooted to the ground, and yet events unravel in a way so as to deny them something they desired and something that everyone recognised as being immensely achievable for them, even if not their right, so to speak.

It made me question the very nature of desire. The things that seem to make a desire strong or weak. What are these factors? Do they stem from the situation and the likelihood of our attaining these dreams? That’s true for our fears, but not desires surely. Desires, to me, represent you in the most obvious way. If I know your dreams, chances are, that with a little bit of thought, I’d know most facets of your personality. When I think of the stuff that I really yearn for, I know that it tells me a lot about myself.

Why then do we so often fail to attain what we want? If I think about desire the way I described it above, it leads me to just one conclusion. We fail because we don’t really know who we are. And if I look around, it seems to stand up to an initial scrutiny. The people I see who fall short the most, seem to be the people that overestimate themselves the most and vice versa of course.

Now, I speak not just of materialistic things - or MasterCard items as I like to call them - when I say all this. It’s true of the most intangible things as well. There are times when we fail to read a situation properly and start expecting something. There are moments when you are so sure that you know something to be a certain way that you ignore all the signs that point to your being wrong.

That brings me to another point. There are times when each of us passes through a situation wherein you can see what is going to happen to someone and are still powerless to do anything about it. It happens in front of your eyes. And you wonder why the other person did not see it coming. You wonder why despite seeing even more than you perhaps, the other was blind to the outcome that seemed so obvious to you!

That’s where the judgment has come in. You read the situation correctly since you did not have that much at stake. You read it in a more unbiased way and the other person did not. You knew the other person in a better way, because being in a particular situation distorts one’s views, not just of the situation, but also of themselves. That’s what I meant when I said that in every field of life, my belief is that we fail to achieve a desire purely because we make errors in judging the situations and our selves.

Also wanted to say something about fear. I remember mentioning once that fear is perhaps the deadliest emotion that can possess you as it cripples not just your thinking, but every single faculty of yours and ultimately ensures that you lose…no matter what your abilities are, no matter what your mental faculties are, if you’re scared, you’ll lose.

I’m not saying that one needs to be fearless. No human being in our materialistic world can ever be fearless. The battle therefore is not so much to quell it, but to overcome it. You’ll never kill fear, so don’t try. So, then do we all lose because we all feel fear? Yes and no actually. No, I’m not contradicting myself. If you’re scared, you’re sure to achieve less than you could have. That way you lose…so no matter how positive the outcome may be, you could have done better all the time.

A small example of this could be a game of cricket. If the batsman was not scared of getting out, he would chase more balls and perhaps score more runs. He may still score the fastest 100 of all time, but unless he reached that 100 in 17 balls with 17 sixes, he could – technically speaking - have done better. Yes, I have played the game and no, I am not drunk or anything. I just pulled an example out of nowhere to illustrate a point!

The other day I heard of something that happened with someone I know, and I was quite honestly flummoxed at how it happened. It made me look within myself too, for I know that something along the same lines, although in a totally different way, happened with me once. While not saying exactly what, let me just say that it was a case of someone’s fear preventing them from trying to achieve something.

It’s sad when such things happen. It’s even worse knowing that someone’s fear stopped your getting something that you felt was really beautiful or caused you to lose something that was really beautiful. It’s weird. And no, I don’t believe in the theory that everything happens for the best. It’s untrue and you can’t make me buy that…

Anyway, amidst the dreary darkness that seems to have engulfed life these days (what with no rock shows scheduled, exams around the corner and a quiz tomorrow), the bright spot remains that five people who really matter have got things that mean a lot to me. Five down, five to go… Naah! Make that more…